Cape Cod: Wellfleet

Wellfleet on Cape Cod offers something for everyone. Located some 30 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, Wellfleet has an abundance of quaint seaside character and charm. Bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the west by Cape Cod Bay, 61 percent of the land area of Wellfleet is in the Cape Cod National Seashore Park. Wellfleet has a total upland area of approximately 13,100 acres (20.47 square miles). Of this total, about 8,000 acres (12.5 square miles) are within the Seashore boundaries, leaving 5,100 acres (8 square miles) outside.

The miles of beautiful sandy beaches are perfect for swimming, surfing, flying a kite or just relaxing. If you’re willing to walk a short distance, you can enjoy complete solitude on your own private beach.

The calmer waters of Cape Cod Bay and their harbor are a haven for boating, windsurfing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Don’t miss taking a refreshing dip in one of the many cool, clear, fresh water kettle ponds! If biking or hiking is what you’re looking for, there are many miles of trails both in the National Seashore and at the 1000 acre Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. So you’d rather go shopping? The quaint Central Village area offers a wide array of fine art galleries, and shops all within a short walk.

This unique town offers a variety of lodging choices including motels, bed and breakfasts, cottages and houses to rent and country inns. The comfort of Wellfleet motel and lodge accommodations will make your beach vacation complete. Dining can be anything from fried clams on the beach to white tablecloth restaurants. After dinner you can catch a movie, a theatre performance or live music ranging from classical to rock, or you can head down to the harbor for one of Wellfleet’s spectacular sunsets.

Do you prefer to travel in the quieter months? Wellfleet is usually blessed with great weather through October; most businesses are still open, crowds have dissipated, the beaches are nearly deserted. We celebrate the end of each season with a send up of our world famous shellfish at the Wellfleet Oyster Festival on the weekend following Columbus Day. Come join the fun!

The Wellfleet Drive-in, Mini-Golf, Flea Market and Cinemas ( , located right on Route 6, are a popular spot. You can call 508-349-7176 for more details. There is also the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) , Julie Harris Stage & WHAT For Kids ( at 2357 Route 6 & 1 which we did not have a chance to experience this trip in.

Dining Out: We did venture to Wellfleet for dinner. Van Rensselaer’s ( has been family owned and operated for over 35 years. In 1968, Howard and Anne Hall opened Southfleet Restaurant , serving a variety of Cape Cod fare. Many a customer today recalls those summer nights when a Wellfleet entertainer by the name of Arnie would fill the place with song. But 1980 marked the beginning of Van Rensselaer’s, a name chosen from Peter Hall’s Dutch ancestry. A trace of the family line leads to Steven Van Rensselaer, a name highly associated with New York’s Rensselaer County and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Today, Peter and Diane Hall proudly continue to serve the freshest locally caught seafood and superbly prepared meats. As Peter told me, his wife was originally a dental hygienist before they were married and assumed running the restaurant from April until October. It is fully wheelchair accessible, with an accessible washroom as well.

Van Rensselaer’s hosts two to three special wine dinners each year – generally, one in the spring and two in the fall. These five-course dinners are a wonderful opportunity to try some innovative, new wines paired with some delicious and creative courses from their chef and kitchen staff.

Located on State Highway 6 in South Wellfleet, opposite the entrance road to the Marconi area of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the restaurant actually draws diners from as far away as New Hampshire who drive in for the evening. My family enjoyed a wonderful dinner. The virgin pina colada was a quenching beginning while the salad bar and homemade New England clam chowder were excellent. We were urged to try the house speciality appetizer, lobster cakes, a creation of Peter’s brother-in-law. They were spectacular. For the main course I would recommend the barbeque beef short ribs, braised in red wine, green and wax bean sauté, corn bread and zesty barbeque sauce or the one and one quarter outer cape roasted lobster.

There are no kosher restaurants in Wellfleet, but Van Rensselaer’s has some excellent fish choices: the baked chatham scrod, with lightly seasoned crumbsm, fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes is light. Ditto for the sword fish, salmon and the tuna. For the kids there is a cute and low priced menu offering grilled cheese, hot dogs, mozzarella sticks, fried chicken tenders or penne pasta with marinara sauce.

If you are looking for a casual meal with plenty of choices, check out PJ’s. It is also on Route 6. Here you line up at the counter, select a meal and wait for your number to be called.